Just days after Jewish leaders and allies shut down an Immigration and Customs Enforcement office in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, hundreds of Evangelical Lutheran Church in America members and their allies returned to the building to hold a prayer vigil for immigrant families under assault by the Trump administration. The Washington Post reports that some carried signs reading, “We put the protest back in Protestant” and chanted, “This is what the love of God looks like.”
Immigrant rights advocacy group Voces de la Frontera said activists sought to nail “9.5 pro-immigrant theses to the door of the Milwaukee ICE building, in re-enactment of Martin Luther's nailing of the 95 Theses in 1517, which marked the founding of the Lutheran Church,” but video from Milwaukee ABC affiliate WISN shows an official ripping the paper off the door as advocates watch.
It didn’t deter them one bit, with church members passing a resolution after the vigil declaring the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America a “sanctuary church body.” The church also passed “another resolution, calling on congregations, synods and other church organizations to speak out against the ‘inhumane policies of harassment, detention and deportation implemented by the U.S. government.’”
“It just keeps getting worse and worse in terms of unaccompanied children, separated families, detention centers that are just horrific, and so what we wanted to say as a church body, as the Lutheran church, we wanted to now act with our feet and take action,” said Evelyn Soto Straw of the church’s Domestic Mission.
Last week, Jewish leaders shut down the ICE facility, saying that “central to Jewish life is the concept of Tikkun olam, the responsibility to heal the world and pursue social justice. Jews are taught from an early age that to remain silent in the face of injustice is morally unacceptable.” During this latest action, activists, including members of the New Sanctuary Movement of Milwaukee and Milwaukee Interfaith Congregations Allied for Hope, also “lifted their voices for immigrant justice.”
“We are seeing the effect of those who would like to divide us by building walls of hatred and misunderstanding,” said Bishop Paul Erickson. “We need to recommit ourselves to the work of rebuilding our communities and the spirit of unity that has made this country a place of hope and freedom. The very soul of our nation is at stake; we will march, we will pray, we will work to bring about just, lasting, and humane reform so that all immigrants, refugees, and asylum-seekers can find justice."